On June 2, 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama presented a plate diagram and concept as the new government-supported symbol and initiative for healthy eating for Americans called MyPlate. The new plate symbol replaces the pyramid symbol that was originally introduced in 1992 and updated in 2005.
The original pyramid concept was to show the proportion that each food group should make up of one’s food intake, but the revised pyramid in 2005 took that several steps farther in becoming very personalized. To utilize MyPyramid, consumers would enter their personal height, weight, activity levels, etc. online to calculate an estimated calorie level to follow and MyPyramid would provide recommendations for amounts of food from each food group to fit that calorie level. The actual 2005 MyPyramid diagram was a vague representation of nutrition recommendations. While it was very interactive for online consumers, it became less accessible and useful for those who were not as computer savvy or without internet resources. The symbol itself wasn’t user-friendly and didn’t depict recommendations for healthy eating. The MyPlate symbol and concept go back to the basics of proportions of food groups on a plate and cater to visual learning and memory.
The MyPlate initiative is focused on sending a simpler, clearer message to Americans about healthy eating. While most of the information is the same as MyPyramid, MyPlate portrays the information in a clearer and more cohesive format that resonates with consumers. The plate symbol depicts the main food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) and suggests the basic proportions (on a plate) for each group to make a balance meal. It’s an old concept brought back to life to replace a confusing 2005 MyPyramid. The place setting is a familiar image and the diagram directly represents what and how much we eat. It will help consumers translate the image into action.
Correlation with Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
MyPlate is a part of the larger initiative to encourage healthy eating along with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a set of recommendations for Americans age 2 and up developed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and updated every 5 years. These guidelines aim to provide Americans with some direction on healthy habits including healthy eating and physical activity with an ultimate goal of helping reduce risk of developing chronic diseases and promoting healthy living. These guidelines encourage action from individuals to take charge of their intake and activity levels.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes 7 key messages (listed below) for consumers to remember and act on.
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
MyPlate visually illustrates key messages from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans even. People will be able to recognize that half of the plate diagram is filled with fruits and vegetables, and they can easily understand that they should fill their own plate to match (just like one of the key messages listed above).
ChooseMyPlate.gov is a USDA-based web page dedicated to MyPlate which gives a wealth of information to supplement the MyPlate diagram.
The website provides:
- Examples of foods in each food group on the MyPlate diagram and gives additional recommendations for good choices within each group
- Examples of appropriate portion sizes of various common choices in each food group
- Explanation and elaboration on each food group as well as oils, “empty calories”, and physical activity
- Healthy recipes which include tables to show which food groups the recipes count towards
- Explanation of protein options for vegetarians
- Healthy eating tips
- An option to create a personalized food plan and sample menus
- Printable materials
- Information formerly found on MyPramid.gov to help Americans make healthy eating choices
Check out all of this and more at ChooseMyPlate.gov and discover how the plate diagram and resources can help you achieve your healthy eating and healthy weight goals!